Ghostly goings on – pitch up for Halloween
*switches on torch*
*holds torch under chin*
*starts intoning in deathly hollow drawl*
As we’re excitable sorts and take any opportunity to dress up in Victorian gowns (men) and luxuriant moustaches (women), we’ve already sorted out our costumes and are looking forward to Halloween. Answering the door to small trick or treaters while slathered in realistic-looking fake blood is our very favourite thing about the season and is highly recommended, but taking to the road – with costumes – is tremendous fun too.
If you’re planning to do the same for the beastly break, there are lots of creepy choices around the country with which to scare the kids silly. We’ve narrowed our options down to the ones below – if you see us, give us a wave from your hairy werewolf hand:
Warwick Castle : One of our favourites on the castle trail, Warwick is running The Haunted Castle from 27 October to 4 November, and is open from 9pm every night for the prowl of creepy critters (us, probably). Hardy souls can shiver in the castle dungeons – ‘not recommended for under 12 year olds or wimps’, say the Warwick staff – while for those less brave there’s a new Witches of Warwick attraction, Georgian swordmanship with The Duelling Dead, and daylight events including a Hallowe’en trail, dressing up ‘for the kids’ (yeah right) and themed dining nights. There’s a Halloween festival running all October at nearby Stratford-upon-Avon too. Fangtastic.
Where to stay : The best thing about staying in a tipi at Hallowe’en is that you can tug at the canvas and say musingly that it mightn’t be much good at keeping vampires and werewolves out. Within earshot of the kids, naturally. Werewolf-proofing aside, the tipis at Twitey’s Tipis and Campsite , six miles from Warwick Castle and four from Stratford-upon-Avon, are snug, safe and come with their own external firepit with logs included in the price (from £45 per night). Tent pitches are also available from £18 per night.
Wookey Hole Halloween Spectacular : Wook! We mean, woot! Dive down to the Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset between 27 October and 4 November to be greeted by the resident witch, take a tour through the caves then recover your nerves on the twenty or so attractions afterwards including the Hallowe’en Circus Show. There’s also a play castle, a mirror maze, vintage penny arcade and the Valley of the Dinosaurs. Wook.
Where to stay : Closest to the caves is Bucklegrove Caravan and Camping Park less than three miles away, where luxury camping cabins are available over the weekend from £30 per night. For a family week of it, there’s the award-winning Quantock Orchard Caravan Park in Taunton, with gym, sauna, steam room, games room and adventure playground, from £15 per night. Or pitch up at the also-award-winning and adults only Long Hazel Park at Yeovil 14 miles away from Wookey at £21 a night – no-one said you have to bring the kids…
Scarefest, Alton Towers : Personally we think in our ripe old age that some theme park rides are scary enough, but if you want to have your heart in your mouth even more and be shamed in front of the kids who’ll take it all in their spooky stride, make for Alton Towers until 31 October. To take the rides in the dark. In the dark. Other hair-raising horrors include mazes, costumed characters and the Carnival of Screams. Ulp.
Where to stay : Stagger off to Callow Top Holiday Park in Derbyshire afterwards, less than seven miles from Alton Towers and with fishing lake, children’s playgrounds, games room, bird hide and traditional inn on site. Electric and non-electric pitches are available for tents, tourers and motorhomes, and there’s a half-price offer until 8 November with pitches from £11 per night.
Exbury Ghost Train : There is something inherently spooky about trains. We know not why – perhaps it was exposure to a TV adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express at a formative age. (Kids today with their SpongeBob SquarePants…) So – perversely – we think we might make going on the Exbury Ghost Train in Hampshire a Hallowe’en option (running from October 27 – November 4). Pitch-black tunnels, vampires and dreadful puns such as hosts Napoleon Bone-aparte and Batty the Vampire make it all sound very tempting. And there are free treat bags for those who turn up in fancy dress. We’re in.
Where to stay : After ghastly ghostly stuff, we’ll want a nice peaceful park, so Lytton Lawn Touring Park at nearby Milford on Sea looks like a nice safe bet. It’s a family park set in eight quiet acres with no trains, and there’s free entry to the club and leisure larks at neighbouring Shorefield Country Park two and a half miles away. Pitches for tents, tourers and motorhomes start from £12 per night.
Over-excitement about planning Halloween after seeing what’s on? This can easily be allayed by wearing your ghoulish costume a week early. Or so we’ve been told.